Graduation season is wrapping up and I am finally able to say – I did it! I got a degree! I actually attended two graduation ceremonies this season as my clever husband finished his course too, and so I was able to experience two very different ceremonies and, more importantly, got to wear two dresses! Big events like a graduation can be really intimidating when you are somebody who is constantly aware that you are taking up physical space, so I thought I’d compile a little guide for any other fat babes who are either graduating or attending a graduation any time soon.
I’ve got to admit, I panicked when I thought about ordering myself a gown. Was it going to be a big hassle getting something to fit me? Was I going to be uncomfortable and restricted? Going to event with a lot of eyes on me was going to be stressful enough, and I wanted to be sure that I could be comfortable and just feel ‘normal’ I suppose. Luckily the gown is measured to your height and chest size in advance, so collecting and putting on my gown was very easy. Even your head circumference is measured for your hat, though apparently my head had grown between measuring and collecting but it was easy enough to just swap it out for another one on the day.
Top tip: if your chest is not the largest part of you, don’t measure your chest! I measured the circumference of the largest part of my stomach to make sure that my gown was going to be comfy for all of me.
I spent months looking on and off for a dress to wear to my graduation. I wanted something quite fancy looking, but comfortable and breathable because my graduation was late July and I had a feeling I would be hot. I wanted my arms covered for minimum burning (but – duh – my arms were covered by my robe) and something that was comfy to sit down and stand up in. I ended up receiving a gorgeous dress from Gatsby Lady and honestly, I felt like I was better dressed for my graduation than I had been for my wedding! It was everything I was looking for and more. I wore the flats that I had worn to the legal part of my wedding day, because I don’t like wearing heels on the best of days let alone when I need to walk on stage in front of a room full of people watching me.
On my husband’s graduation day I decided at the last minute to wear a dress I already owned – I was going to be in photos with both of us wearing our robes, but I also wanted to keep my Gatsby dress special and only worn once. Is anybody else weird like that? I wore boots with a slight heel to his one, knowing that I didn’t have much walking to do at all, but there was quite a bit of standing around before the ceremony and I wished I had worn something a bit more comfortable.
Top tip: most graduations are in the Summer months, and it can definitely get sweaty under your robe. I made sure I was wearing a pair of Chaffree shorts so there was zero chafing and I knew I would be comfortable all day. Chaffree are great because their shorts are super comfy and are made of magical (probably not magical) material which is sweat resistant and comes in a really great range of sizes.
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Oh man, this was my least favourite thing about both ceremonies. My graduation was held in a really posh theatre, where I had to wedge myself into the seat and felt a chair arm digging in to my side through the whole ceremony. Luckily the guy next to me didn’t show up so I had a bit of room to lean over into his chair which left me feeling a little bit less claustrophobic. My husband’s graduation was held in a marquee and it had fold out chairs. They looked like they were buckling when other people sat down, so I was nervous the entire time I was sitting in mine and the chair itself was digging in to my back. Even my daughter, who is 11, said the back of the seat was hurting her back. I was leaning forward to try and put my weight on my feet through the entire ceremony, and honestly I just felt super uncomfortable and ready to stand up at every opportunity.
Top tip: it might be worth contacting the venue in advance to find out about seating. Are there sections with larger seating? Would you be able to stand at the back if you are worried about feeling squashed in? If there’s anything you’re worried about they will be happy to answer your questions.
These were the things that worried me about my graduation, but there may be other things that cross your mind when you think about your big day. Please contact your University if you have any worries and do try to relax – it is one (very special) day and I would definitely be sorry if I had let my anxieties get in the way of me attending.